Having enjoyed a marvelous breakfast buffet at Casa Bellavista , our friends Bill and Marg and Edie and I headed out to travel some of the winding roads of rural Tuscany, on our way to Montefollonico. The breakfast had been delightful…muffins, fruit, cereal, a selection of meats and cheeses and that marvelous Italian coffee.
As we drove down the driveway of Casa Bellavista, we enjoyed the view of Cortona (some call it the Grandmother of Rome) but today was a day to meander the back roads and visit the picturesque medieval village of Montefollonico, a village that is “off the beaten path”. To reach Montefollonico, you are required to drive through the beautiful countryside of the Val di Chiana and down some back roads that wind through farmland and fields dotted with olive orchards, fields of wild poppies and broom.
Some have called Montefollonico a “miniature medieval city”. At one time it was surrounded by medieval stone walls complete with seven round towers. Today, the village is still entered through large gates, the main gate being Porta del Pianello. It was once complete with a drawbridge. The 12 th century buildings of Montefollonico are built on the site where Etruscan and Roman settlements had previously been built. The name in part comes from the Latin word fullones , meaning “wool workers”. Montefollonico was once a place where villagers and area farmers raised sheep and where wool was worked.
After a relaxed walking tour of this beautiful little hill town enjoying the narrow streets and beautiful flowers, we decided to have lunch at Ristorante 13 Gobbi located on Via Lando Di Duccio 5.
The terrace of 13 Gobbi was a charming and an inviting scene. The menu offered a variety of traditional Tuscan foods and the wine selection was superb. Our lunches consisted of a tasty selection of ce ci e salvia, insulate , grilled vegetables and fagioli e olio . A delicious local vino rosso complimented our lunch.
The trip back to Casa Bellavista took us over more beautiful countryside and past the majestic hill town of Montepulciano, home of the world famous Brunello di Montepulciano.
The sweet fragrance of the jasmine drifted through the air and mingled with the scent of the roses at Casa Bellavista. We were enjoying an early evening Tuscan sunset and a glass of wine. The table had been set for al fresco dining. Simonetta informed us that the dinner she and Guido were preparing included i nsalata di cavolfiori (cauliflower, olives, peppers, oil, garlic and salt and pepper), pasta carbonara a Guido, grilled melanzana flavored with a touch of olive oil and some formaggio and fruit for our dolce. For our wine, we would be having a Rosso di Spaltenna from the vineyards at Spaltenna , the castle in Gaiole in Chianti where Guido is the General Manager. Tonight, however, he was our chef and was preparing us his recipe for pasta carbonara.
As we sipped our Rosso di Spaltenna we talked of the true treasures of Tuscany…the beauty of the countryside, the rich history of the hill towns, the respect for the culture of art and architecture, the relaxed pace of living and of course, the Pasta Carbonara a Guido.
Edie, Dave and Simonetta
Pasta Carbonara a Guido
1 lb. Linguini
Pancetta or Prosciutto [2 or 3 slices about ¼ inch thick – depends on how much you like it]
3 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese [May us ¾ cup if desired]
1/4 Cup onion, finely diced [If desired]
1 Tablespoon of chopped fresh garlic [if desired]
Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot. Cook pasta until just under al dente.
While pasta water heats and you cook the pasta, dice pancetta or prosciutto and sauté in extra virgin olive oil until it is a bit crisp. When crisp, drain excess fat and set aside.
Mix eggs in bowl and grate a generous amount of black pepper [to taste] into eggs and mix.
Add Parmigiano -Reggiano cheese to egg and pepper mix and whip until smooth creamy texture.
Add pasta to pan with pancetta or prosciutto and mix well
Add egg mixture, whisking quickly until the egg mixture thickens, [but do not scramble the eggs]
Toss until pasta is well covered with mixtures and serve hot.